by Bob Beranek

I would like to share a Honda commercial sent to me by my friend Mark Daniels, a technical advisor for GGG-Gold Glass Group, AEGIS Tools International Inc. and other companies in the automotive glass industry. This video, which ran in Europe several years ago, is called ‘The Cog’ and it intrigued me because it contains several references to automotive glass. The video is the type of ‘Rube Goldberg’ invention which takes a simple task and creates a series of complicated steps to accomplish the action.

To view the video, click here.

Of course, as a technical trainer, when I see these types of inventions, I have the need to figure out “why” and “how” the process works. It is kind of like trying to figure out a magic trick for me. I am not an expert in physics or mechanical engineering, but here is what I don’t understand about the progression.

  • How do wheels travel uphill with a little boost from another tire? At the 25 second mark in the video a tire makes contact with a series of three more wheels going up a ramp. I just cannot see how that is possible. It could just be me.
  • How does a non-rain sensor windshield run a wiper mechanism to start a door glass mobile? At the 1:19 mark a piston head is tapped into the door glass that opens and allows the piston head to fall down onto a battery that stimulates the wiper washer to wet a “non-rain sensor” windshield that triggers the wiper mechanism. Is this a discrepancy?
  • Are the parts used in the commercial supposed to be from one vehicle? If that is the case, at the 1:25 mark in the video they are using four front door glasses in the door glass mobile instead of two front door glasses and two back door glasses. Which would go against the “parts of one vehicle” theory.
  • Lastly, this process doesn’t contain all natural movement. At the 1:56 mark the vehicle is stopped with the application of the brakes. You can see it. It does not coast to a stop nor does it come in contact with a wheel stop.

So, how does this pertain to glass installation? This commercial is a metaphor for the complexity of the modern day vehicle and the importance of how all the different parts work together to create a dependable working product. We, as automotive glass technicians, do the same thing. We disassemble and reassemble all of the parts we are responsible for in such a way as to make sure that they all work together properly and safely. There are tens of thousands of parts in an automobile and all must work together to provide a safe vehicle for the occupants. We concern ourselves with a relative few of these parts, but the parts we are responsible for play an integral role in the safety system built into the vehicle.

The agency that created this commercial worked on it for more than six years to get it right. Shouldn’t we work on our art as hard as they did?

I thought it would be fun for my readers to see if they can find more discrepancies or explain the ones I pointed out.

Comments (3)

  1. […] “The Cog” in the Automotive Wheel […]

  2. Mark Daniels said on 22-04-2016

    Hello Bob and thank you for the kind words.

    Here is an article I have cut and pasted that explains some of your questions.

    The sequence of events in the advert is actually split into two shots – shooting the whole thing in one go would have been too expensive.

    “It was a damage limitation idea to snip it into two [parts],” says Rob Steiner, head of television at Wieden & Kennedy, the agency responsible for the advert.

    Having said that, the shoot was still a major feat of technical planning. The two minute ad took six months to plan and almost a week to film. The production needed over 600 takes, 20 sets of alloy wheels, 10 bonnets, 15 pots of paint and two handmade pre-production models of the new Honda Accord. One was used for the final shot and the other was taken apart for the bits you see crashing into each other.

    The idea is simple – a cog rolls along a table, hits an exhaust pipe, which rotates and hits piston rings, which roll into an engine block. So starts a chain of events until the new car is revealed. The agency describes their idea with the very touchy feely phrase “warm engineering”. What this actually means is anyone’s guess but the ad is already being hailed as one of the greatest ever.

    Setting up the chain reaction was extraordinarily frustrating. “Watching people’s faces round the TV monitors during the shoot was like being at a football match,” says Tony Davidson, creative director of Wieden & Kennedy. “When something went wrong, it was like your striker blasting a really great chance over the bar.”

    Once the car had been reduced to parts, the art directors drew sequences they thought would work. Technicians then calculated how to make the ideas real.

    For example, the sequence where the tyres roll up a slope looks particularly impressive but is very simple. Steiner says that there is a weight at the bottom of the tyre and when the tyre is knocked, the weight is displaced and in an attempt to rebalance itself, the tyre rolls up the slope.

    In another sequence some bolts skim across the surface of a table and drop on to a see-saw. The technicians had to ensure that there was exactly the right amount of oil on the surface. “It was trial and error as to how much oil was put there because it had to slow the pace down for them not to shoot off the edge,” says Steiner.

    The equipment was so precisely set up that the crew literally had to tip toe around the set for fear of disturbing things, which led to some unexpected problems. “As the day went on, the studio would get hotter,” says Steiner. “It meant that wood would expand and the cog or exhaust that spins around would move slightly faster.” These tiny changes made big differences to the precision set-up of the equipment.

    After all of this, some of us are always re-engineering the car. Some make it better and some make it worse. That is why there is a need for training and furthering education.

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